BENGALURU: Police raided a house in Fraser Town here on Thursday and arrested two terror suspects, and a third in Bhatkal on the Karnataka coast.
The men were planning attacks in Bengaluru on Republic Day, a senior policeman told Express. While the two arrested in the city are scrap dealers, the third is an MBA graduate.
The arrests come 10 days after a blast on Church Street in Bengaluru killed a woman and injured four men.
Police said they had recovered a huge quantity of explosives from the men, suspected to be members of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen. A close analysis of calls made from the mobile tower yielded clues that led to the arrests, a source said. Investigators had worked on the leads for three days before they swooped down on the suspects.
The arrested are Syed Ismail Afak (34), Saddam Hussain (35) and Abdus Subur (24).
All three are natives of Bhatkal. Afak and Hussain were living in Bengaluru, while Subur was in Bhatkal. All three are natives of that town.
City Police Commissioner M N Reddi told the media the police had received a tip-off on Thursday afternoon.
“We simultaneously raided their houses in two places and found a huge quantity of explosives, including IEDs. We recovered about three kg ammonium, gelatin sticks, timer devices, PVC pipes, fuel, and other deadly material,” he said.
The police have sent the material to the Forensic Science Laboratory.
The suspects were constantly in touch with IM and its splinter groups and were allegedly being directed by handlers of the terror group. “They were active in the last few days and we are ascertaining when and how they came in contact with the terror organisation,” Reddi said.
After they stumbled on the improvised explosives in Bhatkal, police say they came to know of a terror module in that town.
As of now, police believe the suspects had no direct involvement in the December 28 Church Street blast.
“But we are interrogating them to know more about their activities and their role in any cases reported in the city,” Reddi said.
The arrested men, booked under the Explosive Substances Act and various sections of the IPC, will be produced before a magistrate on Friday.
The picturesque coastal town of Bhatkal has been hitting the national headlines ever since a blast at the German Bakery in Pune was attributed to Riyaz and Yaseen ‘Bhatkal’. That attack in 2010 had claimed 17 lives and injured 60.
Riyaz, who founded the Indian Mujahideen in Bhatkal in 2001, fled after intelligence agents began a manhunt for him. But police say he had been frequenting Bhatkal till 2008 and had recruited some youths to carry out his work in Karnataka.
Elders in Bhatkal said they had already disowned Yaseen, Riyaz and the Iqbal brothers.“I detest the way the media adds the town’s name to the names of the two brothers. Their second name is Sidibapa and not Bhatkal,” said Rathnakar Kamath, an elderly trader of the town.
He said the Bhatkal suffix had given the quiet town a notorious reputation.A youth group is also striving to do its bit to change the image.
They would rather talk about Bhatkali biriyani and falooda, and the Bhatkal jasmine that is now competing with the more famous Shankarpura and Mysuru mallige varieties.“There is great bonhomie between the Hindus and new generation Muslims. But in recent years, our relations have seen ups and downs,” said Rizwan (name changed), a college student.
The relations had seen a slump after Yaseen ‘Bhatkal’ was caught on the Nepal border, but things improved later.“Today’s news of the arrests has not only shocked us, but also strengthened our resolve to wipe out the terror link from this town,” he said.
Soon after the city police picked up suspects in connection with the Church Street blast case, the sleepy bylines of Cox Town witnessed commotion as a section of the media rushed to the spot. A security guard of Binyard Residency on Hirachand Road claimed that he was not aware of the suspects staying in the apartment till the police came and inquired. He said the police took a few people from the apartment and gave the reporters flat number 413. Many of the residents were surprised to see reporters with OB vans and camera units, when they came back from work.